Unemployment benefits can seem like a godsend when you find yourself unceremoniously let go from our job. But they aren’t going to get you out of a hand-to-mouth situation. Here is a brief primer on what those benefits are, why they exist, and how best to use them (or avoid using them) to improve your quality of life. 

What Are Unemployment Benefits

Unemployment benefits are payments made to workers who have lost their jobs with the intent to bridge the financial gap as you search for new employment. The program is run by the states, and eligibility and benefits vary from state to state. Generally, though, most people who have lost their jobs are eligible for at least some benefits.

Who Is Eligible?

Most states require that you meet certain qualifications in order to be eligible. These qualifications range from an amount of time worked at your former job to your attitude and conduct in the job. The specifics will depend on where you live so it is best to check with your state’s Department Of Labor website before filing a claim just in case you’re not aware the benefits you’re entitled to and the requirements to qualify for them. 

One note: if you voluntarily quit your job or were fired for a serious breach of your contract you will not be eligible.

What Are Unemployment Benefits Meant To Do?

The answer to that question isn’t as simple as it may seem on the surface. While unemployment benefits can provide a cushion for those out of work, they aren’t intended to be a long-term solution. In fact, in some cases they only last for a few months. The idea behind unemployment benefits is twofold: first, to help those who have lost their jobs until they can find new employment; and secondly, to help stimulate the economy. By making sure that people are still able to spend money even if they aren’t working, it is hoped that the general economy will receive a boost.

So what does this mean for you? Well, unemployment benefits do provide temporary assistance but should not be counted on as a permanent source of income. 

What Is The Best Way To Use Unemployment Benefits?

The best way to use unemployment benefits is to supplement your income with them when you are in need. 

You can also use them as a stepping stone, using the time that they provide to start looking for new employment or even change careers. Unemployment benefits don’t last forever so it’s important not to rely on them too heavily and try to find other ways of generating income while receiving these payments. It will be more difficult but it won’t leave you out of money once the unemployment benefits run out. 

If You Are Employed, Keep Your Job (Or Look For A Better One)

It can be tempting to coast when you have a job, especially if it’s one that you don’t love. But it’s important to remember that even if your current situation is less than ideal, it’s still better than being unemployed. 

Instead of sitting back and waiting for your job to disappear, or trying to hold out for something better, why not take the initiative and look for a new job? It may seem like a daunting task but by starting now you’ll at least be ahead of the game. And if you’re already employed, there’s no reason to stop looking. Keeping your job while looking for a new one can actually be beneficial. 

It shows potential employers that you are serious about finding a new job and it keeps you from getting out of practice. It also gives you the opportunity to explore your options and find something that at least matches what you currently have if not better. So don’t be too quick to settle, even if your current job isn’t exactly stellar.

If You Have Been Unduly Fired, You Should Apply For Benefits

If you have been fired from your job for no reason, or if you were let go in a way that you believe was unfair, you may be eligible for unemployment benefits. Filing a claim is relatively easy and can be done either online or over the phone. 

If you receive benefits, use them to get your feet under you and provide stability while you search for a good job.

If you find yourself out of work, the best way to make sure that it’s not an end is to use unemployment benefits as a safety net. Benefits are available in every state, but they’re designed more like a springboard than a hammock. You can’t just sit back and wait for something better to come along; instead, put the time on unemployment toward finding your next opportunity. If you need help doing that, click any of the banners on this page…